Bread punch carp and crucians promise on winter pond

December 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Having suffered his third blank fishing session in a row on Monday, my friend Peter was keen to break his duck before the Christmas break. I suggested the pond ten minutes walk from my home, where I promised that it was impossible to not catch a fish, be it a crucian, or common carp, let alone a few dozen rudd.

We arrived in bright sunshine and set up, Peter with running line and waggler, while I got out my carp pole with a small 2 BB waggler, ready to fish the bread punch over damp, coarse bread crumb mixed with ground carp pellets. I squeezed up four balls and put them out in a square pattern 6 & 7 metres out, while getting ready to fish. Peter fed out a bed of pellets and fished over the top with maggot, then immediately began swinging in tiny rudd, after tiny rudd, happy to be catching fish at last, but I reminded him that he would soon get fed up with catching them. Which he did.

I too was having rudd trouble, but my 6 mm bread pellet seemed to be getting better sized rudd and going up to a 7 mm punch gave the larger fish a chance to take the bait.

The sunshine soon was masked by dark scudding clouds and the temperature dropped suddenly with the first shower of the morning, the fresh wind directly in my face making casting of the lightweight waggler difficult. The rudd did not mind and the float kept sinking, the elastic coming out with my first crucian.

Peter had tired of the tiny maggot caught rudd and switched to pellet on the hook. More rudd, although a couple of four inch crucians also managed to find the hook. My heavy elastic came out again, as a small common carp made a run for it, stirring up mud on the way to the landing net.

As I recast, Peter let out a call and I looked over to see his rod bending into a good fish, that ran round in front of him, then came off. This pond has been heavily poached for food fish this year and rod benders are in short supply, so I was as sorry as him to see it throw the hook. More rudd for me, then solid resistance as the elastic reached down into the pond, with a decent crucian pounding away, arcing round before popping up to the surface at my net.

Crucian carp like this were one a chuck here once, but today I was grateful for small mercies. Missing also were the tench that have been growing bigger every year, a rare lone gudgeon no compensation.

Peter was into another good fish, a pound plus common carp that fought hard against the rod, this time the size 14 hook staying put to the landing net.

At last Peter was happy, I had kept my promise of fish to break his blank period and this was the best of the day for both of us.

As if in answer to Peter’s carp, my elastic was out again with a larger crucian than the last, that doggedly stood its ground, rolling and diving all the way to the net.

A slow submerge of my yellow tipped waggler, was met by a firm lift of the pole and a run that took the elastic out toward Peter’s bank, as another common stormed off, then turned to my left against the pressure. Breaking down the pole to 4 metres I guided the rolling carp to my net.

I was amazed, when I saw how small this common carp was, its fight as strong as a fish twice the size.

Brief showers continued to sweep across the pond, Peter’s umbrella going up and down like a yoyo, while I sat through them without waterproofs, having believed the weather reports of a dry day. Each time I reached for my waxed jacket, the rain stopped.

I balled in the last of my groundbait to keep the bites coming, although rudd seemed to be the culprits pulling down the float, you never know what will turn up in this pond. A more solid strike brought a silvery fish to the surface, not another rudd, but an ornamental ghost carp.

This little carp looked like it was wearing dark rimmed glasses, a black V stretching back across the nose to encircle the eyes.

The rain began again, the sky an opaque grey to the horizon. This time I put on my jacket, while Peter called over to say that he was packing up. I agreed, there was no sign of a let up, our hands were already frozen, why add to the misery, when a hot cup of tea was waiting at my house a few hundred yards up the hill?

This cut down Billy Makin Canal Grey has served me well over the years.

Not the haul that I was hoping for from this once prolific pond, but a satisfying result on a cold wet morning.

Braybrooke roach save the day

December 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm

My friend Peter and I had been planning a return visit to Kingsley Pond in Hampshire for months, but the hot dry summer had reduced the water to unfishable levels, until recent rains had raised the water table again. Planning a day at the pond, we travelled in our own vehicles to meet up, but while on the way I had a call from Peter to say that he was now at Kingsley and the pond was frozen over from bank to bank. Hopes of bream and big roach would have to wait for a milder day.

I suggested we try the River Blackwater, where I had a good net of roach the previous week and diverted back into Surrey to park at the riverside. Heavy weekend rain had flooded the river, the clear shallows now muddy raging torrents. I contacted Peter again to give him the good news of the floods, suggesting that we drive back to Berkshire to check out Jeanes’ Pond at Braybrooke Park.

We arrived at the Braybrooke carpark at the same time, Peter’s M3 and dual carraigeway route in his BMW overtaking the cross country diversion taken by my van. Walking down to Jeanes’ Pond, it was a relief to see clear water. Our drive through three shires had cost us over two hours fishing time, to arrive at a venue two miles from my home.

We set up in adjacent swims, my usual choice being pole and bread punch, while Peter set up a running line and waggler rig to fish maggots over a bed of carp pellets. There were no visible signs of fish on the surface and I opted for a winter rig of a fine antenna float with 6 No 8 shot, shirt buttoned down to a size 18 hook to 1.7 lb line. The level here was about a foot down on normal and I plumbed the depth at a metre over the shelf at 3 metres, setting my float to fish a 100 mm off bottom. I guessed bites could be hard to come by and started off with just one small nugget of liquidised bread over the shelf, casting my float into the sinking cloud of feed.

The float sat for five minutes without a tremble, so I put another nugget a metre to the right and fished into the cloud. Still no sign of a bite, my next move was to cast back to the first cloud. The float sank slowly down and I lifted into the resistance of a small roach, watching it drop back into the water as I swung it in.

Into the same spot, the float sank immediately and I brought the small roach fighting to the surface, only for the resistance in the surface tension to prove enough to pull the hook from the lightly held fish. In again the float dithered, held down a fraction, then popped up. Not sure, I struck anyway and brought the small roach away from the swim and into my hand.

It was a start, Peter and another angler hadn’t seen a bite yet on their maggots, while mine were now coming every put in, although the size was nowhere near what we had been getting a few months ago.

I put in another small ball of bread on the side I was catching from and moved back across to previously baited area. The float sank again and a better sized roach was drawn round to the side.

The feed one, fish the other method, kept the fish coming relentlessly, while Peter was still biteless, the other angler coming round to watch the bread punch in action, having had only one tiny roach all morning. He returned to his peg and packed up.

These fish were really cold to the touch on a day when temperatures were in the low single figures; they had drifted across to the feed, but the liquidised bread has no content, the 4 mm pellet of soft bread an easy meal to suck in like thick soup. After two hours, Peter had had enough and began packing up, but I still had holes to punch in my bread, the bites, although no more than dotting down the float bristle, were still bringing a fish a cast.

The roach were now getting bigger, but by 2 pm I had filled my punch bread with holes and proved a point again, that in very cold conditions, the bread punch will always put fish in the net.

My hole count suggested 80 roach, the largest no more than 3 oz, but you can’t beat a float going under every cast, even if the fish are small, they all add up, this net weighing over 3 lb, more than a pound an hour.

Peter has now been studying my book on bread punch fishing, determined to play me at my own game.

Bread Punch Roach come in from the Cold.

December 15, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Having made plans to go fishing, when the forecast said 11 degrees for today, I woke up to find the grass stiff with frost and a forecast of 2 degrees maximum all day, with a wind chill taking it down below that. Apparently a Siberian blast, had blown away a relatively balmy wet front from the Atlantic.

The van was already loaded and my bread bait from the freezer had thawed overnight, so the thermals were removed from their moth proof bags, the woolly shirt taken from the hanger and my thick tri-knit pullover found lurking at the top of the wardrobe. With a thick hoody under the pullover and a fur lined, thermal hat, I headed off to the river Blackwater 20 minutes drive away, arriving at 11 am.

I had not fished this section of river before and walked through frost chilled grass, until I found the inside of a bend, where floods had deposited a mudbank wide enough for my tackle box, with a gap in the trees that would allow my 14 ft Browning float rod to just pass through.

I set up with a 6 No 4 ali stemmed, bodied stick float and opted for a size 18 barbless to 2.8 lb hook link. My usual choice of hook for this rig is a size 16, but on such a cold day bites might be at a premium, so went down a size. By 12 I was ready to fish, throwing out two well squeezed balls of liquidised bread into the channel running along the opposite bank. Guessing the depth at two feet, I swung out the float rig to the channel, letting it run through at half speed. The float had gone 10 yards, when it dipped and sank down to the tip. Strike! Yes, a nice fish pulling hard against the rod, then it was off. In again, the float trotted 15 yards and disappeared. Strike! This time the fish flashed and rolled, then came off again. I put in another ball of bread and tried again, putting the float up another 6 inches, then easing the float down the swim and stopping it at intervals. The float dived and I was in, this time a roach visible in the clear water. The landing net came out and I slid the roach across the shallows into it.

Lifting the roach from the net with the line, the hook popped out. It had been hooked in the skin of its lip. They were obviously just sucking at the 6 mm bread pellet, as it hovered in the flow, holding back hard giving the roach a chance to take the bait. Going down to a 5 mm punch, the float was cast again and stopped several yards down the channel. The float sank and the rod bent into a good fish, letting it run downstream with the flow, back winding the reel, then slowly winding it back to the edge of the shallows, skimming it across to the net.

This roach took the bait straight down, the smaller punch making the difference, the following cast netting another clonker.

Another ball of bread went in again, well upstream into the channel, trying to bring the fish up to me. It worked, the next roach coming as the float cocked.

A shoal had moved over the bread coating the bottom, regular feed balls, every few fish, keeping them coming, swinging the smaller roach to hand. A lone gudgeon broke the chain, boring deep as it fought upstream.

A freezing chill wind got up, blowing straight downstream, putting a bow in the line and I began missing, or dropping roach, landing about one in three hooked fish. I bulked the shot a foot from the hook and added another foot of line beneath the float, lifting and easing the float down the river with a tight line, constantly mending the line against the wind. Bites were now coming about ten yards downstream, the bob, bob, sink, dipping of the float becoming predictable. If it was bobbing, or half held under, I struck, following up with an easing of the line, bullying resulting in a lost roach.

A figure appeared upstream of the bush opposite and the fish retreated downstream. Well wrapped against the cold and wearing a Cossack style fur hat, the man was on his lunch break from the factory opposite, not realising that his presence on the bank had just scared my fish off. I lobbed over another ball of feed and got my tea and sandwiches out too, passing the time of day with my visitor, before resuming my efforts, bites now coming 15 yards down. The wind was now dragging the float over toward my bank, the float often sinking as I mended the line back to my float, hooking a roach.

Putting in more feed brought the roach back up within range and the tight line put more fish in the net, but I was still losing fish, probably due to the stiff tip action of the 14 foot Browning, my 12 foot Hardy lightweight rod would have held more fish, but would not have given that extra length to control the trot. Unlike many anglers, I do not own a vast array of rods and with most of my tackle at least 30 years old, fishing is all about compromise.

By 2 pm the wind had dropped, allowing better presentation of the bait and my catch rate improved, shallowing up to run through at half speed. Having topped up my bait container with the last of my liquidised bread, I was playing a roach, when a pair of husky type dogs bounded along the towpath toward me, sniffing around my bait. Once the fish was netted, I looked round to see that one of the dogs had its head in the container lapping up my feed, the owner offering a lame “Sorry.”

With no more feed going in, the trots got longer and the chance of fish throwing the size 18 hook increased, a big fish, chub, or roach, took twenty yards downstream, but came off before I could tame its fight. The weak December sun had now sunk low into the trees, bringing an extra chill to the air , the light falling away, making bite detection difficult as the float tip merged into the background.

The roach above was my last fish, by five past three I had run out of bread to punch, every space having been filled with holes.

It had been a busy three hours, the forgotten art of stick float fishing bringing me a 6 lb net of many quality roach and a wish to return before Christmas, weather permitting.

Passing several promising swims on my way back, I noted a couple with the flow under my own bank, ideal for the little Hardy rod. The grass still crunched with frost under my feet and I couldn’t wait to reach the van to turn the heater up to 11.



Environment Agency stock boost for polluted river

December 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Environment Agency officers, gave my local river Cut a clean bill of health this week, delivering another 1,500 juvenile coarse fish from their Calverton Fish Farm, to the small Thames tributary, that was badly hit by a severe fish kill in early 2017. Since then the river has benefitted from bank works to improve the flow and also an injection of over 3,000 fish.

A bright December morning was ideal to transfer the fish, 500 each of chub, roach and dace, from the fish transporter on the bank, to the clear shallow stream.

Some good sized roach were introduced.

The chub above are already worth catching.

Head Park Warden and secretary of the controlling Braybrooke Community Nature and Fishing Club, Danny Williams, helped with the introduction of the 500 dace.

Having fished the Cut last week, I can confirm that the fish introduced last year have already grown to a good size. Previously there were no dace in these upper reaches and yet they are now a hard to hook, fast biting species occupying the shallow gravel runs.

The dace above was the best of a dozen dace taken on stick float and bread punch, along with small chub and roach, during a short two hour visit.

With more bank work to improve the flow promised by the EA in the coming months, club members can hopefully look forward to a return to catches of a few years ago.